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Looked-after children and their birth families: using sociology to explore changing relationships, hidden histories and nomadic childhoods

Holland, Sally and Crowley, Anne 2013. Looked-after children and their birth families: using sociology to explore changing relationships, hidden histories and nomadic childhoods. Child & Family Social Work 18 (1) , pp. 57-66. 10.1111/cfs.12032

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This paper draws on a series of life-history interviews with 16 young adults who were all formerly looked-after children. Eight young men and eight young women aged 17 to 25 took part in the study in Wales, UK. They had experienced a wide range of circumstances at home, in care and after care. They were contacted through a self-advocacy organization and other care leavers' groups. The paper explores how insights from the sociology of the family can serve to enhance understandings of these young people's life stories and, additionally, how their lived experiences can contribute to this sociological field. Key themes explored in the paper include the emotional co-presence of the birth family for children living in substitute care, the dynamic nature of experiences and perceptions of family relationships through the life course, the importance of siblings and the insightful reflections of participants on the challenges of learning to ‘do’ family across childhoods marked by nomadism. The paper concludes that a holistic theoretical approach that embraces ‘psy’ and sociological understandings of families and relationships will be most productive for researchers, practitioners and families.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Uncontrolled Keywords: care experiences; foster care; looked-after children; loss and separation; theoretical issues
Additional Information: Special Issue: Rediscovering Family and Kinship: new directions for social work theory, policy and practice
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1356-7500
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:07

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